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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
TAMPA - Just before Jefferson and Hillsborough embarked on their grudge match Friday night, Tito Zumbado waged his gastronomic one.
The Dragons senior known as "Boomer" barfed. What else is new?
"I throw up before every game," said Zumbado, who worships Adam Vinatieri, not to mention the proverbial porcelain god. "I don't know why, I have no idea why."
What we do know is this: Without this 6-foot kicker of Costa Rican heritage, the Dragons (4-1) would be mired in a two-game skid. Friday, Zumbado may have lost his pregame meal, but he won the game.
Zumbado had the first three-field-goal performance of his career in a 9-2 Jefferson win that featured fewer style points than a Booger McFarland belly flop.
"Our kicker came through for us," Jefferson coach Mike Fenton said.
Such was the storyline emanating from Dr. Sam Horton Stadium, where the slobber was knocked so hard, strands of it were spotted in the International Plaza parking lot.
Two nasty defenses set the tone. One nauseous kicker set a personal record.
Zumbado was summoned for five field-goal tries as his offense consistently found the red zone but failed to punch it in. He converted on tries of 38, 51 and 34 yards, missed a 50-yarder by a couple of feet and watched a 37-yarder sail just wide right.
That's five field goals in his last two games. During that stretch against Armwood and Hillsborough, Zumbado has outscored his offense, 15-0.
"Usually, Stephen Garcia and the offense get it done," Zumbado said. "But we're working out the kinks."
Then again, defenses such as those Jefferson has faced the last two Fridays tend to cause more kinks than a lopsided sleeping mattress.
Pessimists will point to dropped passes, spotty pass blocking and ineffective rushing attack inside the red zone, and wonder aloud just how far into November Jefferson can survive.
Fenton isn't fretting with them. It's not as if his club isn't moving the ball.
Jefferson generated 244 total yards Friday against a unit that came in allowing 11 points a game. The Dragons also had an apparent Garcia-to-Evan Cromer 17-yard touchdown pass ruled incomplete, though Cromer looked to have control of the ball - and both feet in the end zone - before dropping it.
"If we weren't moving the ball I'd be concerned," Fenton said. "But I'm not. We're moving the ball just fine. ... I'm ecstatic."
Cue the postgame revelry.
Sure beats the pregame retching.
All in a Friday's work for Tito Zumbado and Co.
"You've got to do what you do," Zumbado said. "I'd rather just kick the extra point after touchdowns. But I have to get done what I have to get done."